Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas recipe yield a tender, flavorful pork. This carnitas recipe is easy to make in the crock pot and perfect for serving a crowd. Pork Carnitas taste incredible in a warm tortilla topped with avocado, cilantro and a dollop of sour cream.
I’ve made this recipe for slow cooker pork carnitas for my family for years. The flavor is so amazing! It’s simple to put together and let it cook in the crockpot all day. We love it served in a warm tortilla, but it’d also be delicious on a salad, in quesadillas, or served on a roll as a sandwich.
What are Carnitas?
Carnitas is a Mexican dish consisting of pork that’s braised or simmered in oil. I simplify the technique here by slow cooking in a crockpot. Slow cooking tenderizes the pork and in addition allows you to use little or no oil in the cooking process.
How do you serve Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas?
You can serve carnitas in a variety of ways. Most traditional is served like a taco on a warm corn or flour tortilla. Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas are also delicious on a salad, in quesadillas, or served on a roll as a sandwich.
Why use Dr. Pepper or Coca Cola in Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas?
The can of Dr. Pepper or Coke in this carnitas recipe serves 2 purposes. First, the acidity in the soda works to tenderize the meat. Second, the soda imparts a sweet, unique flavor that is incredible when combined with the spices!
What type of pork roast for Crockpot Pork Carnitas?
I most often use a boneless pork shoulder roast for slow cooker pork carnitas, but you can use just about any type of pork roast. Leaner roasts will yield slightly tougher carnitas, but the slow cooking process significantly helps in tenderizing the meat.
Ingredients needed for Crock Pot Pork Carnitas
Here’s what you’ll need to make carnitas:
— pork roast (3-8 lbs)
— chili powder
— onion, quartered — I love using sweet onion
— Dr.Pepper or Coca Cola soda (12 oz)
— brown sugar
How to make Slow Cooker Carnitas
This recipe for Crockpot Pork Carnitas is SO simple!
You can use a bone-in roast or a boneless roast; it doesn’t really matter since you’ll be cutting the meat off the bone anyways. First, trim your pork roast of excess fat and cutting into 2″ chunks.
Spray slow cooker to make clean up easier. Then, add ingredients into slow cooker and stir.
Cook on low for about 6-8 hours, until pork is tender and falling apart. After that, shred the pork with a fork and remove onion pieces.
Serve in a tortilla with sour cream, cilantro and sliced avocados. Enjoy!
Like this easy slow cooker recipe? Try these other crock pot recipes ~
- Easy Crock pot Hawaiian Chicken recipe
- Best Crockpot Beef Stew recipe
- Best Crock Pot Pork Roast
- CrockPot Turkey Breast
- Crock Pot Sweet Pork
- How to make Crock Pot Shredded Chicken
- Best Crockpot Pork Carnitas
- Easy Crockpot Madras Lentils
- Dr. Pepper Crockpot Roast
- Best Chili Recipe
- Crockpot Chicken Alfredo Lasagna
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
- 1 pork roast 3-8 lbs
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 large onion quartered
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 can Dr. Pepper or Coca Cola soda 12 oz
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- Trim excess fat from pork roast. Cut remaining meat into into 2″ chunks.
- Spray slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Combine all ingredients into slow cooker. Stir.
- Cook on low for about 6-8 hours, until pork is tender and falling apart. Shred with a fork and remove onion pieces.
- Serve in a tortilla with sour cream, cilantro and sliced avocados. Enjoy!
How to Cook Carnitas in an Instant Pot
- Set your IP to Saute so that the pot begins heating up while you gather the ingredients. Add all ingredients to your IP. Push "cancel" then "Pressure Cook" and set the timer to 60 minutes. Toggle the pressure release to "sealing." It will take about 20 minutes to come to pressure. After cooking, I always let my roasts Natural Pressure Release (NPR) because I think the consistency is better. The full process in the IP takes about 2 hours.
Looking for other Mexican recipes that you can make easily? Try this Instant Pot Steak Fajitas recipe here!
How long does it take to slow cook pork?
When you cook a pork roast in a slow cooker, how long you cook it for depends on how large your roast is. I use a small 3-4 pound boneless pork roast for this recipe and I like to cook it in a slow cooker on LOW for 10-12 hours. You can cook it on HIGH for 6-8 hours, but I think the texture and flavor is better when you cook it on low.
I cook this Pork Roast recipe in a 4.5 quart basic crock pot. (Basic but so pretty!)
Can you make Carnitas in an Instant Pot?
Yes, you can make carnitas in an instant pot! I’ve also begun making pork in my Instant Pot and it’s AMAZING. It’s quite a bit faster than using a Slow Cooker (it takes about 2 hours total!) and I think I like the results even more! I use a small, 2-lb Pork Sirloin Tip Roast from Costco and add the remaining ingredients. It’s fall apart tender and so flavorful! Instant Pot instructions included below- I’ve even made it in my baby 3-qt Instant Pot with great success!
How to make Pork recipes in an Instant Pot
Set your IP to Saute so that the pot begins heating up while you gather the ingredients. Add all ingredients to your IP. Push “cancel” then “Pressure Cook” and set the timer to 60 minutes. Toggle the pressure release to “sealing.” It will take about 20 minutes to come to pressure. After cooking, I always let my roasts Natural Pressure Release (NPR) because I think the consistency is better. The full process in the IP takes about 2 hours.
Instant Pot Carnitas tips:
–Remember that varying sizes of roasts that the SAME AMOUNT OF TIME. Larger roasts will just take longer to come to pressure and to pressure release. I generally use a smaller 2-3 lb roast. If you use a 5-6 pound roast, you might want to account for 3-4 hours total of cooking time.
— You don’t have to cut the pork roast up if you don’t want to! It saves time and is just easier to not cut it up when you’re cooking in an IP.
— I have an older IP and have actually never gotten a “burn notice.” I hear the newer ones are a bit more temperamental. If you get burn notices often in your pot, pour in another 1/3- 1/2 cup of soda on top of your roast, after adding in all other ingredients.
Looking for more Pork recipes? Check these out:
- Sausage Potato Boat Recipe
- Best Pork Tenderloin Marinade recipe
- Easy Lil Smokies & Meatballs Recipe
- Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas Recipe
- Crock Pot Ham Recipe
- Bacon Wrapped Meatballs Recipe
- Grilled Italian Sausage Recipe
- Slow Cooker Pork Roast Recipe
- Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin Filet Recipe
- Sausage and Peppers Recipe
This carnitas recipe makes the best pork carnitas I’ve ever tasted. Easy slow cooker carnitas, that are unbelievably simple to make and SO tasty!
Looking forward to giving this a go. Every other recipe I’ve seen leaves the pork shoulder whole and shreds later. Is there a reason you cut yours up and take the fat off before cooking? Does it ever over cook?
It’s just a shorter cooking time when you cut it up- that and the flavor seeps into the meat more because it has better access! Cook it low 6-8 hours and you’ll be fine! I like to trim the fat so that you don’t have it all just mixed up into the pork when you’re done. Leaving fat on is often thought of as helping the meat retain moisture & flavor, but when you’re cooking in a crockpot, you don’t really have issues with that.
Kala F says
You show a large range of meat pounds without decreasing or increasing the flavor ingredients. How much pork do you usually use when using this quantity? I don’t want to have an under seasoned result if I have 8lbs.
Once you cut up the pork and add the remaining ingredients, there’s quite a bit of liquid, so it covers the pork, even when more pork is used. I’ve used a wide range of cuts/ sizes of pork and it works out!
Can you substitute the coke with club soda?
I’ve not tried it…
Could I use Diet Coke?
I think that sounds like a GREAT IDEA. 😉
Most recipes I read say to avoid diet soda. The reason is that the sugar is part of what affects the pork and helps caramelize it. In fact Mexican coke is preferred, as American coke uses high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) instead of sugar, which also affects the cooking process and inevitably the flavor. Mexican coke – or another cane sugar based soda (rather than HFCS) works best. Hope this helps!
I don’t eat pork, what other meat do you think would work well? And would cooking time, measurements etc change?
You can use chicken- thighs would be closer in texture to pork roast, but you can use chicken breasts if you prefer.
I made this yesterday and it is so sweet because of the brown sugar and the Dr. Pepper. I liked it, but I wouldn’t think of this as carnitas. It’s more like pulled pork. I put bbq sauce and vinegar coleslaw on it.
Kelli Cook says
My Mexican friend said he never heard of adding a coke or Dr. Pepper for carnitas.
My friend made this and it was delicious! I’m making it for the first time, and it still has a few hours, but it’s pretty tough. Is it going to get more tender and able to shred? I don’t cook pork often, so I want to be sure! I’m getting nervous and I was so excited to eat this tonight!!
So glad you and your friend liked it! Yes, the pork should continue to tenderize as it cooks. Be careful about opening your slow cooker too much as it can slow down the cooking. Enjoy!
I have an 8lb pork, how long do I cook it for on low?
You should cut it up first and it should take about 8 hours.
Will a pork sirloin roast work for this?
I don’t see the Instant Pot instructions below. Am I missing somehting
I apologize Hannah- I added it!